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Hooper returns in Wallabies’ 36-man squad for Autumn Nations Series

Hooper returns in Wallabies’ 36-man squad for Autumn Nations Series

Michael Hooper

Michael Hooper is set to make his return to the international arena after he was included in Australia coach Dave Rennie’s 36-man squad for the Autumn Nations Series.

Wallabies’ former skipper Hooper will have the chance to add to his 121 international caps in Tests against Scotland, France, Italy, Ireland and Wales with Gregor Townsend’s men first up on 29 October.

Hooper withdrew from the Australia squad the day before he was due to start against Argentina in Round 1 of the Rugby Championship citing ‘mindset’ issues.

While Hooper is back in the squad, Test veteran James Slipper will continue as captain while there is room for five uncapped players in Rennie’s travelling group who are looking to bounce back from an up-and-down summer.

Rennie said: “We’ve got a massive opportunity over the next five matches to test ourselves against some of the best teams in the world and string together some performances that our supporters are proud of back home in Australia.

“It’s been really pleasing to continue to get game time into our players through the Australia A program and a number of those guys have been rewarded for their form with selection in the squad.”

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NSW duo Ben Donaldson and Mark Nawaqanitawase impressed against Fiji and Japan for Australia A, with Jock Campbell and Langi Gleeson also getting the nod after the 2-1 series victory over the Brave Blossoms.

Melbourne Rebels prop Sam Talakai is the fifth potential debutant, but 33-year-old full-back Kurtley Beale has been left out by Rennie, five shy of his 100th Test cap.

There is also a call-up for powerful second row Will Skelton, from European champions La Rochelle, after he did not feature in the Rugby Championship.

But tighthead Taniela Tupou is ruled fit again after recovering from a calf injury and full-back Tom Banks is also back after suffering a broken arm against England.

As mentioned, Australia begin their Autumn Nations Series in Edinburgh at the end of October before facing France in Paris for the first time since 2016 on 5 November.

They fly to Florence for a Test against Italy on 12 November and return to the British Isles to play Ireland on 19 November.

They round off their tour of Europe in Cardiff against Wales on 26 November.

Australia squad: Allan Ala’alatoa, Tom Banks, Jock Campbell, Ben Donaldson, Folau Fainga’a, Lalakai Foketi, Bernard Foley, Matt Gibbon, Nick Frost, Langi Gleeson, Jake Gordon, Ned Hanigan, Reece Hodge, Jed Holloway, Michael Hooper, Len Ikitau, Andrew Kellaway, Noah Lolesio, Lachlan Lonergan, Tate McDermott, Fraser McReight, Mark Nawaqanitawase, Cadeyrn Neville, Hunter Paisami, Jordan Petaia, Matt Philip, Dave Porecki, Tom Robertson, Pete Samu, Will Skelton, James Slipper (c), Sam Talakai, Taniela Tupou, Rob Valetini, Nic White, Tom Wright.

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